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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  June 28, 2014 6:00am-8:01am EDT

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to hear congressional coverage, public appears forums and today's washington journal program and debris they listen to a recap of the day's events on washington today. you can hear audio of the five network sunday public affairs programs beginning sunday at noon eastern. c-span radio on audio now, 202-69 to 68888, long distance or phone charges may apply. just a few months ahead of retirement congressman john dingell spoke at the national press club about his career and the current state of congress. the michigan democrat is the longest serving member of congress with the kenya the stands six decades and he
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remains only one of two world war ii veterans currently serving in the house of representatives. this is an hour. >> good afternoon. and welcome. my name is myron belkind, adjunct prof. of george washington university school of media, public affairs, former international bureau chief of the associated press and 107st president of the national press club. the national press club is the world's leading professional organization for journalists committed to our profession's future through our program in which events such as this, fostering a free press worldwide. for more information about the press club please visit our web site at on behalf of our members worldwide at like to welcome our speaker, those of you attending today's event. are head table includes guest of our speakers as well as working journalists who are club members so if you hear applause in our
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audience, members of the general public are attending so it is not necessarily lack of journalistic objective of the. i would like to welcome our c-span and public radio audiences. you can follow the action and twitter using the hash tag in b.c. lunch. after our guest's speech concludes we will have a question and answer period. i will ask as many questions as time permits. is time to introduce our head table guests. i would like each of you to stand as your name is announced, from your right, karen kessler, automotive writer, the new york times, marissa schultz, washington correspondent for the detroit news. christina marcos, staff reporter for the hill. coke berra, a former house representatives office of legislative council and guest of the speaker. kevin moore rita, managing editor, washington post.
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richard francis, former house energy and commerce committee consul who handled environmental matters and guest of our speaker. conover our speaker for a moment, the washington bureau chief of the buffalo news, chairman of the ftc speaker's committee and a past nbc president. angela riley king, bloomberg news white house correspondent, 2013 national press club president and member of the speaker's committee who organized today's luncheon. thank you very much. consuelowashington, who handles sec and financial matters and the guest of the speaker. david shepherdson, detroit news, washington correspondent. laura lipman, professional reporter for bloomberg news comment and the roll call hold
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on the. [applause] >> when our guest today took his seat representing michigan in the u.s. house, it was the same year the first mcdonald's opened and coca-cola was first sold in cans in addition to bottled. gas cost $0.23 a gallon and you could buy a car $1,900. dingell took office in 1955 during president eisenhower's administration, served alongside a levon presidents and is not only the longest serving member of the house now but the longest serving member ever. he announced in february that he will retire at the end of his to pheasant -- is 29th term. dingell when he was 29 succeeded his father at a congressional district. his district is part of the big
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three auto country. he is hoping that the dingell dynasty continues with his wife debbie and auto industry air and former lobbyist being elected in november to succeed him. dingell spent a decade and a half in the commerce committee and was its ranking democrat until henry waxman ousted him in 2008. dingell is known for his quick temper and questions of witnesses the people magazine called intimidating. earned the nickname the truck for his 6 ft. 3 stature and his style with the chairman's gavel. the committee has wide ranging jurisdiction so he has opted laws on clean air, in danger of species and health insurance including shepherding through the affordable care act. in spite of passing the endangered species act and other environmental legislation dingell has a reputation as an ally of the auto industry and
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its main union that has managed to fight attempts to strengthen our mental regulations for cars. at his father's knee serving as house page in the 1940s, we invited him to the press club to give a farewell speech but dingell said he is not done working or governing yet. so ecb is here today to speak to us about "when congress worked". tell me give a warm national press club welcome to congressman dingell for his seventh appearance at a national press club luncheon since march 7th, 1975.
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[applause] [applause] [applause] >> myron belkind, thank you for your gracious introduction and thank you all, your dear friends, for your kindness in such a that jason -- gentle welcome. i hope when this is finished you will feel the same way. i want to thank the fresh club for inviting me and for allowing me to bring so many of my friends here today. i am particularly pleased that my colleague, jim morand is here today. [applause] >> stand-up, we are very proud of you. [applause] >> it has been a particular honor and privilege for me to
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surf with you. and he has been a role model for any and all. i also want to welcome, to recognize so many of my dear friends and former members of my staff who are here today. and i ask that all of you who ever worked on behalf of the people of southeast michigan, are with me on the energy and commerce committee, will you please stand and be recognized. [applause] >> there is a strange state about my association with my staff. i have picked not only the most extraordinarily able but also some of the finest and most
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loyal people who never drew a breath. i am proud of you all and grateful that you would be here today and greatly indeed that you would be my friends. it is true. i served in the house 60 years and i have seen many things good and bad and much change. i have had the privilege of watching washington change from a little town in the woods to en institution, to a major city of international proportions and i have had the privilege of serving with, not under and not for, 11 presidents from eisenhower to obama. i would observe that it used to be very much strong when people would ask how many presidents he
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had served under. i had the privilege of casting some 25,000 votes. i served alongside more than 2400 colleagues and i have sat in the chamber of the house of representatives to witness some 51 state of the union speeches from all of the 11 presidents with whom i served. in my service i have been able to author and to pass landmark legislation that helped protect the environment, ensure civil rights for all, and to help our middle class to grow and prosper and i am proud of what i have been able to do. i was thinking as i made my mind up one was going to run, as to whether i should stay and surf and when the lovely deborah and i sat talked-about these things we would like to see -- we
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completed those things which my dad set out to do when he was here and we have also been able to move forward, to complete all of the goals which i had when i started out here. i want to make clear this is not to brag about my office. is simply to show that there was a time when congress could and did work, when congress passed major. a salesian and earned a bipartisan support to move the nation forward, when business was done with armed fighting but also good will and mutual respect. i did not do these things by myself. no man and no woman could. we did them with colleagues who were more interested in seeing this nation grow than seeing it
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falter. people who were willing to put partisan labels on the shelf, worked for a greater and common good. were the hallmark of those. in those days, that was how it was. in these days i often remind my colleagues of the very definition of the word congress. it means coming to get there. it means a body which has come together. and it is a part of the historic understandings that this country had when we had a congress which worked. said lee, however, it has not been doing much coming together lately and i imagine that you have observed this also. this is not a congress that has
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worked, but it could be. and frankly it should be. last year, we saw some 57 bills signed into law by the president, 57 total. we created as many laws as there are varieties of hines's famous product. perhaps that is the way we should name that congress. but do not get me wrong. getting things done does take time. i remember years ago, and i brought up a set of bipartisan clean air amendments. they passed the house with a vote of 401-21. just 13 hours of work took the house to complete this effort. folks came up to me afterwards and said dingell, helena name of common sense and demanded to
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pass that bill in just 13 hours? i looked at them and said it took me 13 hours to get a bill that both sides agreed to on the floor. but it took me 13 years to do the work that made that possible. that tells you how hard legislation is to to do. my former staff here, most of you news men and women and my good friend jim moran can testify to the difficulty of the process of compromise, of getting legislation with good will. one of the interesting things about congress is the change. it has become in too many instances a nut case. it has become in too many
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instances an instance where it is the goal of members to have the name of a committee on their letter head which attracts attention and support politically. it is unfortunate indeed that this is so because the congress is an important national trust. it is something where we have a duty to the people to do what is necessary in the broad public interest. and it is the case that we do not see that occurring on many instances in the congress. the committees are too large and should be shrunk. the subcommittees' too large. i served on one committee, or served on one committee, the
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number of members in the subcommittee's exceeded the number of members on the full committee when i went out there. it could go on and on as to how it has gotten so big as to be incapable of carrying out its responsibilities. other forces are making things go badly. the supreme court decision in the citizens united case has allowed unlimited anonymous or dark money to flow into our political system. we have a court that has taken the most literal approach to so many of these important decisions that the consequences are beginning to have a very serious effect on not only democracy but the trust of people in their government and i
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regret to note there is still more got awful cases rattling around at the supreme court that are almost certain to do more harm. any tom lehman reading the citizens united decision will assume that should relieve this was in no way written by a group of intelligent individuals. [applause] >> or people even remotely aware of what is going on in our current political spectrum. the decision flies in the face of so much of what our representative government was founded upon. allowing people in corporate interest groups and others to spin an unlimited amount of
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unidentified money has enabled certain individuals to swing the any and all elections, whether they are congressional, federal, local, state, or whether they are votes about the creation of some kind of local entity or resolution of local question. that is why we have seen the rise of the super pacs. people are dipping their hot hands into any kind of election and state ballot initiatives. anything under the sun that will help to get what it is they want. unfortunately, these people,
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having goals which are in line with those of the general public. history shows that there is a very selfish game going on, and that our government has largely been put up for sales. we have also had members in congress that wish to do nothing more than shrink the size and scope of the federal government. this, without taking into account the families, the veterans, active-duty military, countless others who rely on this government for and on our nation. and these people forget that they -- more and 300 million americans, those 300 million americans and more are living in one of the most dangerous times for american history.
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many of my republican colleagues now find that they must sign a grover norquist pledge when they run for congress saying that they will carry out his goal to shrink government down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub. these are his words, not my words. and so with this norquist pledge, and similar litmus tests, these quandaries are only made worse by redistricting, where a similar event has occurred before to enable legislatures to be owned by the same special interests. we see in statehood and state legislatures draw our congressional lines with little interest in fair representation, with small concern about
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protecting regional boundaries, or about any blink of consideration for any part of the voting act which is under attack. we operate simply in the interests and the making of majorities for one -- and achieving one particular set of news. as redistricting creates more and more safe seats, we see members focus only on winning primaries, not about the public interest and not about real discussion of the concerns, and citizens have. the pledges are signs, and attempts to become the ideological image of what their
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primary electorate sees their political party is or should be with a work product that equals their goals and facilitates their wishes. there is also no incentive to stake one's neck out and compromise. it should be noted that many on both sides can only run further on the first leak narrow and partisan principles, a simple analysis will tell us that this does not help our democracy. i have said before i would be scared to bring up the ten commandments for a vote in congress because i am not sure they would pass and i am almost certain that they would have a vast number of amendments laid
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upon them. unfortunately, i still am compelled to stand on the validity of that concern. we also now knows the we have a congress that is decidedly begun writing policies and legislative priorities out of the speaker's office. the congress was built over a long period of time to achieve particular goals by seeing to it that every member, everybody in the chamber, and everybody outside the chamber represented by people in the chamber, we have a right to be heard and we have a right to be able to see to it that the congress function in a way that attended to the fears and hopes and dreams and
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concerns of every american. so beginning with newt gingrich and delay. that is a funny word, isn't it? delay. we came out with the idea that we would facilitate it by allowing one man, one entity to run the congress of the united states. so now we have seen a clear effort by both republicans and their democratic successors and now the republicans again to ultimately usurp the committee process. when i started there were only a handful of members on each committee and three to nine members on each subcommittee, three to nine. the interesting thing was one of the most complex and difficult
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questions would be dealt with in the committee. and members would come together and hear testimony and run everybody out of a room, removed their coats and one of my colleagues used to say fight like hell. for however long it took. the result was committees that knew and understood legislation. they can explain and defend it and have the trusts of their colleagues. today their committees with 100 members on them. if each member described, multiplied that out and see how much opportunity there is for real and intelligent discussion of the important issues of the
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day, and at any time there is an important meeting, each member gets seconds to address their interests or ask their questions. i repeat, what do you think the chances are for intelligent debate of important national questions and important national concerns. one of the other things, we see new members who come in and head right to the floor, and those great big wonderful speeches before they even know where the restrooms are. they end in washington on a monday or even tuesday and the first question is what time is the first plane on which they can return home? how is this going to facilitate
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a significant national debate or intelligent discussion of the legislative business? we hear from the members, i am against this and i am against that. do we ever hear much about what they are for? more importantly, the question is what are they willing to make a compromise on? because compromise is an honorable word and i am going to try to continue pushing that view during my remaining time in the congress so we ought to ask these new members, what you for? what you going to compromise on and what you going to try to achieve? to see that we come up with a program in government that gives
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us a resolution of the difficult controversies and difficult national questions of the day. i am sad to leave the congress. i love the congress and i am delighted that my wife is running for congress because i think she is decent and much prettier than i am. i will observe that my sadness is ameliorated by the poisonous atmosphere that we see in american politics today. i am troubled by the many hurdles this congress faces and refocusing its efforts on the important matters at hand, i am comforted to know that they could only improve. when the dictionary defines the word congress as a coming together, it also defines the very way we could emerge from this current mess.
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first and foremost it will take congress willing to put aside petty differences and lived up to the definition, compromise is not a dirty word, it is not an evil thing, conciliation is not a bad idea. cooperation is not an unspeakable act. the sooner congress realizes this and american citizens realized this. and impressing this view, the better the situation is going to do. and i was thinking congress could focus. and is more on the public interest. and the american people are interested in seeing to it that there congress works and begin
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to acquire a control on expenditures of money and first race i when i spent $19,000, and i thought good god, what an awful number. recently, i had a serious fight with an incumbent colleague, that i had to spend in that race 3 million. so there are some needed changes where people understand that there congress is not something that should be traded or not traded on the commodity exchanges. the congress is something which belongs to us all. and it is something which has been achieved only at great bloodshed, great loss of life,
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great suffering, cute, hard work and the wisdom of men and women, far smarter than any that we see running around now. and interestingly enough those men and women were not people who had prodigious education. there were people who understood by hard study, and earlier in the history of this world. what we need to do is to have the american people dictate that which must be done. i am proud that i have been able to be part of the body and truly a child of the institution. i intend to keep this nation and all my colleagues in my thoughts
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and prayers and i have to say more often in my prayers than in my thoughts. thank you for what you do, the great power which you wheeled with your typewriter and your ability to communicate thoughts including the wonderful computers, and your leadership and what you are doing because we desperately need to good thinking people, people who are turned to see to it that this oldest institution of its kind in the world's continues to be the greatest gift of all. and when i get up in the morning i think the good lord for the
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gift which he has given to me, making meet a citizen of the united states, some 87, and the opportunity to be an american having more real good things and more money, more freedom, independence and opportunities than any person in the world before 0 thank you, and god bless us all but more importantly, and god bless the united states of america. thank you.
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[applause]. [applause] >> thank you again congressman and the one for being with us today, for delivering a speech and for following to introduce the tradition of a question and answer session. the first question is what this change in congress the most since you visited capitol hill when your father was a member of the house from 1933 to 1955. >> obviously the quote, and in point of fact which the night as the ability to really talk about concerns which we have. the size of the committee, the and workability. force, the lack of capacity of
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the members to carry out their function because of the size of the committees, the size of the subcommittee's, and the harsh fact that nobody trusts the committee. wheat used to have an entity called the tuesday through thursday pub. this was the crowd which showed up on tuesday and caught the hell out of washington. not the way government should run. government should be a full-time business where we seek to serve the nation, and business is well conducted. this is not washington and congress, it is not a place where everybody comes to have a good time. it is a place where the most important of the nation's
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business is supposed to be addressed. there are other things i could mention to you which i am sure you all would recognize, all of you would come forward with your own necessary additions to your comments. >> do you ever see congress returning to a more bipartisan raise of days gone by, what would make that happen? >> things. some kind of >> two things. some kind of a national event which force members and leadership to do that. roosevelt, war, something like that. but beyond that, there are other things which could do that. one would be some kind of
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national calamity. or perhaps something else which would be almost unique, and that would be a wiping out of almost the entire membershdershi by se to it that the voters throw us all the hell out of washington and install thy sr own people i our place. there are other things but that would be a fair summary of some of the things that might be helpful. >> did democrats deserve any of the blame for the partisan divide in congress. >> of course. everybody deserves it. isemocrats deserved it, republicans deserve it. but if you look around, you will find that the news media, the public at large, the citizenry in general, all have their
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faults in this and their reason for feeling guilty about this. look and see what the listenership of the prespdent's state of though union message is on tv and you will look for one thing. it is usually timed to fall after and instead of superbowl or something of the kind. i won't tell you this superbope is not important, not good to watch or listen to, but i am going to tell you that from the standpoint of the nation's well-being, it is not importanas and so what we have to do is to get the american people to say we want you to do something.
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so what are we going to do about compromising this matter into something where the citizenry can accept ians one of the strength i had as committee chairman was that i always would see to it that i got the left and the right to compromise together on legislation. the end result was we passed enormously difficult legislation after huge fights. we passed it with very la ate votes. that is still doable but it requires leadership and it reqeelres people be elected in congress. >> you had some less than kind things to say about the supreme
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courans >> i thought they were quite kind. as a matter of fact i thought they were not only deserved but truthfully, if they had listened, perha tw it would hav been helpful. >> following on, what do you think motivated the citizens united decision? >> money. and the fact that almost the entire court was selected on the basis of ideology and not legal training or anything. i probably shouldn't say any more. so far i have been overly kind. the supreme court staying in that particular mode is where it
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rembe ans. >> what has been below last point in your congressional career? >> oh boy. i saw my world come down around my e years when i had to get a isivorce, get the custo kids and raise four kids alone. st. god i was able to do it with the help of a sister who is going to find the board waiting for her in heaven and i was able to do that in a way which is solid, successful citizens. it was tough. and at that time we were having a huge battle over energy and energy prices that you regularly do on the hill but something
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which the administration was putting out a publication entitled quote mack shove it to dingell. and so i was in the midst of this drt fight about whether th1 were going to shove it or it was going to survive. by then i did, the people in this room here word there to help me. it was very difficult. t > carrying on, what has been the biggest highlight of your time in congress? >> i would answer is this this way. everyday is a blessing. when i get up in the morning, it
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is a litout ae green underfoot. i say thank you, lord. more importantly, the highlights, the single one i remember was obamacare, or the wonderful bill we got through, took care of health care, something my dad wanted, something we finally did, a lot of other bills that we dpd too that were important, but the legislative standpoint, probably the one thing that was mlmt important. t > why does congress need members like you to stay for many wn ars as part of the institution? >> they learn the business. people think you walk through the door and all of a sudden you
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are an expert. a lot of people never learned where the hell they're office is hor anything and lot of people who frankly never learned how to get along or know the names of their colleagues or aren't able to compromise because congress is essentially necessary, necessarily compromise. compromise. it is getting along with your colleagues and knowing what it is they need and what they want and what they have to have. years ago, i got a little guy by the name of gross from iowa and everybody said that is awful, dingell. and i had no, gross is a good and decent man and if i could get a reasonable relationship
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with him, and reasonable friendship, we will run the we are on the committee. it went well. we were on the subcommittee but more conservation legislation, it was a tremendous. god rest his soul, i think warmly of him. another guy from ohio, a lot of people said he has a terrible, acid sense of humor. he is a wonderful guy. if you go underneath that, it was down there. and dingell says my wife is filing for divorce, and she is
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going to name you as a correspondent, that means more time together. you and i, as and we are then he was for his life. and would catch hell from his right wing and i would have a few crackpots of my own. we had to get along, we contrived to do it but we did it because we had trust in that friendship. i had trust in friendship and got the secretaries of transportation, you don't know me. i don't know you. we have got to work together. our words have got to be good
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and we have got to trust each other and we did. one of these strikes we sought in 48 hours and solved in 18. damned if i didn't find they took jurisdiction over railroads around from the commerce committee because nobody knew we had done anything but there are a lot of instances like that. to know how important the human relationship is between members in the congress. if you have that you have almost everything. if you don't you have got nothing. >> one of the criticisms often made of politics in the united states is that it is corrupted by money. during your six decades in the
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house you have amassed a network between 2.8, and $7.6 million according to an analysis of personal finance disclosures making you the 71st richest member in the chamber. how do you account for that wealth and a lifetime in washington help you get rich if that is a truth portrayal? >> i am not rich. second of all, i live very frugally, and a third, i am very careful how i spend money as is deborah. we lived in the same house in virginia for 30 years, 40 years. we have made money, and the
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average american, if he uses good sense can do something like that too. >> how have relations between press, members of congress changed over the course of the past 58 years? >> about the same. [laughter] >> it is kind of interesting now. used to be a guy on the committee, i could always tell where the meeting was going to be because he would show up. that was always -- things were pretty important that day. the business of the house has
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been a little bit corrupted because it is interesting to note it is interesting to note that that money or rather that relationship with the media is one which generally scarce members of the house. it also is a situation where if you watch the members do this on c-span or something like that and watch, he is not talking to his colleagues. he got his eye on the television. and if you look you will find intelligent debate all of a
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sudden a guy who is making a big speech to the television which is quite different than it would be to make his speech to somebody with whom he was having a real discussion of important issues. just to return to one point, i have done pretty well because i learned -- and that is all one can take and use the rules to better himself. one of the reasons you know that
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is you can be pretty sure that it is very truthful and it does effectively keep me and the system sort of honest. >> questions about the issues. at the start of every congress you introduce the bill establishing a national health care system. we don't have that but we do have obamacare. how is obamacare working in your estimation? >> it is all like asking how is is this child going to do in this presidential race, is that child paula boy or girl, does in his or her race for the
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presidency? this is the biggest single undertaking of this kind ever done by this nation. social security was something like $50 million. this is more like 350 maybe. and it is not done by people working with their government. is done by people who are working with insurance companies. all of these things have got to be done by everybody pitching in and cooperating. we didn't get a nickel's worth of help from the republicans. they sulked. and so their complaint is that
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they weren't heard. we invited them and they wouldn't come. so i don't have any questions about the factors given the circumstances as it could. but going a little further than that, if you look, almost every american is covered. second of all, the longstanding complaints of the american citizens about how they were treated have been largely addressed. citizens are able now to know that they are not going to cancel their policy when they go into the operating room or on the gurney. they also know there is not going to be a preexisting condition. the numbers of recipients,
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benefits is almost 100%. the office is paying 360 something in insurance. guess what? the message can't have this. got to do the good for you that he wants, giving the same policies for 160. so then into the market, this is costing too much for your wage so he won the paying $68 of month. same policy, haven't heard a squawk from him. although you hear from the republicans yelling their heads off that it is not working. insurance companies, insurance companies are not satisfied, they are all of a sudden finding
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a have got to pay, if they exceed the cap of 80% or 85% depending on the facility, a lot of people got that. republicans complain about that. i guess they are busy with other more important things. >> speaking of republicans, republicans point to the irs scandal, iraq, and say president obama is incompetent. how do you think he compares to other presidents you have served with? >> he didn't get as into the iraq war, did he? he wasn't involved in watergate. and he has run a pretty honest
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administration. let's take the va a. the reason the va is a problem is he has got to take care of 100 million veterans and see to it that he not only takes care of them but he sees to it that they get the care they are supposed to and that is against -- $10 million, 10% that the republicans were prepared to give. i don't have any real problems. a lot of these people are getting their benefits and the number of these guys are waiting because they are not qualified
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to go in at this particular time. these on non service guys, the service connected are for the most part, what was the other one? >> at the end of the hour. >> i don't want to run between the tail between the legs that address these no good republicans because every once in a while -- >> i would like to praise them if he could find me an instance. >> i thought you covered -- republicans point to the irs scandal. >> giving gigantic amounts of money under the citizens united to fat cats they are trying so
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the irs is looking at them. i say hooray, the guys that are doing this, very frankly, go back to get smoked. >> ladies and gentlemen, we are almost out of time but before asking the last question we have some housekeeping matters to take care of. i would like to remind you about our upcoming events and speakers on july 17th, anthony fox, secretary of the department of transportation, july 22nd, dr. thomas friedman, director of the centers for disease control will address concerns about the health issues. july 31st, good luck, jonathan, president of nigeria, august 1st, the president of the republic of congo will discuss
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peace, security and stability in the central african region. next i would like to present congressman "when congress worked" one with the traditional national press club mud. i don't know if you already have a set of a couple dozen. and finally, our traditional last question, given your reputation as one of the toughest questioners in congress, what life -- what advice to you have for reporters asking members questions as you experienced today? >> know the answer before you ask acquistion. [applause] >> thank you, congressman and the one. thank you all for coming and i thank once again the national press club staff including the german mm-hmm -- journalism institute for organizing today's
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event. we are adjourned. [applause] [inaudible conversations] .. >> as well as books on the black power movement, james madison, the history of the u.s. marshals and the ft


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